Federal building, courthouse in Martinsburg named after late federal Judge W. Craig Broadwater

October 28, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Reta Broadwater collects her thoughts as she talks about her son, the late Craig Broadwater, at a dedication of the W. Craig Broadwater Federal Building and Courthouse in Martinsburg. Behind her is a portrait of the Federal Judge.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The late federal Judge W. Craig Broadwater accomplished more in his 56 years than most people could imagine possible, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller said Friday in a ceremony naming the federal building and courthouse in Martinsburg after the jurist.

"If you knew Craig Broadwater, you knew you had a front-row seat to the American Dream," Rockefeller, D. WVa., told more than 200 people gathered for the ceremony held in the federal courtroom where Broadwater presided for 10 years.

"He accomplished so much, but he did it by treating everyone with respect."

Broadwater died of complications from cancer in December 2006.

Rockefeller, who spearheaded the legislative effort to name the building at 217 W. King St. in Broadwater's honor, joined Chief Judge John Preston Bailey of the Northern District of West Virginia in the courtroom ceremony, which included remarks by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WVa., and retired Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett of the West Virginia National Guard.

"He's a perfect example of what you can do if you set your mind to it in this great world, in the country of America," said Tackett, whose voice cracked with emotion.

Broadwater's knowledge of special forces, counterintelligence and the law made him an "invaluable asset" to the United States in the global war on terror, Tackett said.

When deployed twice to Iraq, Broadwater played an "instrumental" role in the capture and proper handling of al Qaeda and other terrorist operatives while serving as a member of the West Virginia National Guard, he said.

Broadwater was promoted to brigadier general while serving on the federal bench in 2002.

Tackett recalled spending drill weekends together with Broadwater in the National Guard.

"There's a debate as to whether he was a better federal judge or a general,"  Tackett said. "Craig Broadwater was a renaissance man."

Bailey said he first met Broadwater while they were in law school at West Virginia University.

"He was a year behind me, but he was older," joked Bailey, who later called  Broadwater "just one helluva great guy."

Bailey said the naming ceremony and formal presentation of a portrait of Broadwater that now hangs in the courtroom was special.

Before Rockefeller spoke, Bailey recognized West Virginia Gov.-elect Earl Ray Tomblin, Attorney General Darrell McGraw and several federal and state jurists attending the ceremony, including 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh, who has been nominated to fill Broadwater's seat on the bench.

"Hopefully, she will be confirmed by the Senate very soon," Bailey said as he looked over at Rockefeller, who smiled as those attending the ceremony broke out in laughter.

Broadwater's mother, who attended Friday's ceremony along with her son's widow, Chong, and their three grown children, thanked Rockefeller and Capito for making the honor possible.

"What made me more proud than anything was he never forgot his dad, (who) was a corporal in the Second World War," said Reta Broadwater. She said her son always kept his father's uniform with him at the federal building.

After she finished speaking, Reta Broadwater was presented with an American flag by members of the West Virginia Air National Guard 167th Airlift Wing Honor Guard.

The solemn unfurling and folding of the flag into a tri-corner shape in front of the family stirred tearful emotion among those who received special invitations to attend the ceremony in the second-floor courtroom.

To accommodate as many people as possible, a live video feed of the ceremony was broadcast in the federal magistrate courtroom on the first floor of the now named the W. Craig Broadwater Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse.

"It's a mouthful, but its a wonderful mouthful," said Rockefeller after noting Broadwater's vision was very much part of a major renovation of the building, which once housed the Martinsburg Post Office.

Rockefeller said Friday's ceremony came on the anniversary of a surprise party that was held five years ago to celebrate Broadwater's 10 years on the federal bench.

"So, in the end its bittersweet that we come together again today ... to honor not just those 10 years of his service, but the life and legacy that Craig Broadwater left with us," Rockefeller said.

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